Tips, techniques and tactics for better business writing. Professional writing coach McDaniel addresses the sad fact that business writing is becoming somewhat of a lost art, largely because of e-mail and other electronic communications. "When you write only short e-mail and text messages," she writes, "your ability to develop your thoughts shrivels, along with your ability to persuade, sell, teach, improve, guide, change, contribute, and create." The author provides a wealth of advice--including specific exercises--to prompt business writers to write well. Unlike most business-writing courses and books that are dry and dull, McDaniel's work is a breezy, well-written how-to guide, nicely held together with stories of her experiences. The author is unafraid to illustrate some of her lessons with personal challenges and failures, which may be the best teacher. The author covers all the basics: planning ahead, producing first drafts, the importance of the six key questions (who, what, where, when, why, how) and the essentials of editing. But she includes additional techniques that will be of great benefit to business writers, such as her "Brain Dump" process, and how to avoid "corporatespeak" and "WIIFM," or What's In It For Me. Thankfully, McDaniel presents all of the material in the book clearly, concisely, and with a healthy dose of encouragement based on the optimistic belief that "everyone can learn to write well" and that "bad writers just stopped too soon." There are some good suggestions even for seasoned writers, such as "Exciting to Write = Exciting to Read," a section of specific ways to add interest and vitality to writing. The examples she uses demonstrate that even business writing can be done with flair. While McDaniel makes a sales pitch for her services at the end of the book, it's a small price to pay for the wisdom she imparts. The book's readability is proof positive that the author's counsel is sound. A timely manual that business people at any level will find useful. -- Kirkus Discoveries Review
Top award winner of National Best Books 2009 Awards in category of writing/publishing. -- USA Book News, October 18, 2009
"This book is a joy to read and packed full with helpful hints and tips from the first sentence to the last. Whether you write emails or reports at work, or you just like to blog in your spare time, this book is for you and should be treated as a must-read. --Clare Swindlehurst, Blue Archipelago Book Reviews, November, 2009
When 140 character tweets count as communications, writing seems a doomed art. Not so fast, says long-time writer and writing coach Lynda McDaniel. Beyond Twitter and text messages, all those digital bits and bytes on web sites, blogs, newsletters, and press releases are fundamentally ideas expressed in words. If writing is not developed as a skill,she argues, the quality of our ideas rapidly degenerates. Her book is a passionate plea aimed at replenishing the idea wellspring of "American Ingenuity." McDaniel, in the tradition of Strunk and White, has created a guide perfectly suited to the contemporary workplace. Her personal writing journey, started while she was homesteading in North Carolina, sets the tone for her encouraging if-I-can-do-it, so-can-you approach.
Decades of on-the-job writing netted horror stories aplenty. These enliven the learning process while embodying her enthusiasm for writing. "Even the rejects are part of the process," she notes. She models her lessons using vivid words, sentence structure variety, and even well-placed fragments, illustrating how to spice up even the dullest business communication. Succinct chapters show how to overcome procrastination; boost creativity; deal with inner (and outer) critics; get those crummy first drafts out on paper; work with the inverted pyramid (and what that means) to structure writing; cut jargon; directly address readers' needs; and edit, edit, edit.
McDaniel is on a mission to remove fear from writing; her use of image and metaphor provides unusual color. "It's like making a loaf of bread," or "It's more like picking blackberries" [out of the brambles] "than picking huckleberries," [that fall into your bucket practically effortlessly]. Image-rich, witty approaches like "The Bad News Burrito" give unconfident writers a visual, tangible understanding of writing craft.
For those who loathe outlining, the chapter titled "Eureka," includes a detailed explanation of a "Brain Dump" technique that is the basis of an "organic outline." McDaniel explains step by step how to get there. Her discussion of "projection" for writers is unusually insightful and too rarely considered in other basic writing guides.
Brief before-and-after writings illustrate the increased clarity available after editing, whether moving from passive to active voice or turning bureaucratic-ese into clear prose. Though experienced writers may feel there's not adequate meat on the bones, this solid little book packs a punch--with powerful reminders for the pros while giving fearful writers a coach, cheerleader, and role model. McDaniel shares proven practices learned the hard way. This deceptively simple and engaging guide for workplace writers is highly recommended. --Foreword Reviews, December 2009
"Words at Work" offers you writers a painless way to be an author or just do some practical writing with style and effectiveness. Lynda McDaniel gives you a condensed course in lively writing. As someone who for thirty years has made his living by writing, I can tell you that the lessons in this book are the essential ones, and they are good. Catch the spirit in this book and follow the suggestions. I guarantee that your writing will improve and you'll be a happier communicator." --Thomas Moore, author of "Care of the Soul" and his latest book, "Care of the Soul in Medicine."